10:36 pm - Weds 10.21.2009
Since my stand-up class showcase at the Ha-Ha Cafe last month, I haven't even looked at my "set" (Which needs to be extensively edited for an eight-minute set at The Comedy Store next month).
And the only new writing I've done is to jot down a half-dozen "ideas" (I wouldn't even call them "premises" at this point), ideas that would need a great deal of massaging to rise to the level of "mildly amusing".
It's confusing and confounding.
(For the record: I don't need to write new stuff for this coming show - As I said, I actually need to edit, not add material - but if enough people come to see me, which is a big "if", and I get invited back, then I'll need to have some new stuff.)
The show last month went well - I wasn't the funniest thing going that night, but it was clearly a very good first outing - and you'd think, having made people laugh (Something I've always enjoyed), and having the teacher think enough of my set to "mention my name" to the Booker at The Comedy Store, would be motivation to not just keep working, but to work even harder.
Instead, I've stopped working altogether.
And the embarrassing reason for this work stoppage?
It's because writing stand-up is really, really hard.
The "set" I did at the Ha-Ha was the result of 10 weeks of classes and group sessions, writing and re-writing and editing pretty much right up till I got onstage (Seriously - Jerry, the teacher, had me cut a couple things from my "set" during the "dress rehearsal" we had, maybe an hour before the crowd started coming in).
And all that time and effort? Easily over a hundred hours?
That felt like me "half-assing it"; The whole time, I thought I wasn't putting enough into it (And, paradoxically, feeling overwhelmed by the amount of time and effort I was putting into it).
For a guy that's never tried very hard at anything, it's pretty daunting to have something involve this much effort, and to basically never be "done" (After the show, Jerry contacted me saying he had some ideas for some "tweaks" to the set that "would take it from a '9' to an '11'"; at this writing, I'm still trying to get him on the phone so we can confer about just what he had in mind).
And I'm surprised I'm saying "This was too hard" about something where I really enjoyed the end result, where my first outing was a pretty unqualified success, and where I've clearly shown some ability...but there it is.
I didn't realize it at the time, but there was a part of me that would clearly have been quite content to simply have "done stand-up" the one time, to have crossed that off my "bucket list", and have that be the end of it.
Then I got an email from Vargus (The Comedy Store guy), saying Jerry had referred me for a show in the Belly Room (The smaller room at The Comedy Store), and a voice in my head was like, "Fuck! Does that mean I have to think of more funny shit...?"
And saying "no" didn't feel like an option, because there's no real reason to say no - Why would I, cause it's "too hard"? Cause I'm not sure what else I have to say? Cause I'm afraid of eventual failure?
My resistance here really does all boil down to "fear" - I'm afraid I'm going to "fail upwards", basically - and it's very important I fight that fear, instead of giving in to it.
Cause there's nothing to be gained from giving up on this before I've really even started.
The other "writing thing" I'm feeling ongoing frustration with is... this.
I've been unhappy with my writing in here for quite awhile.
Interestingly enough, it's mainly over something I think my tens of readers would give me high marks on - my "honesty".
I had the same unhappiness, in a way, with my stand-up routine; while a number of people marveled at how "personal" I was in my subject matter, I was unhappy that, in my own mind, I didn't really "say" very much that had any great meaning to me.
Long story short, I didn't think I was personal enough (And the challenge, in my mind, is "How 'personal' can I get about my life, and have it be funny, and not just sad and pathetic?").
I'm honest in here, as far as it goes - sometimes I'm very candid about things normal people might be more comfortable keeping to themselves - but in my mind, I duck the really hard stuff on a regular basis.
And it's not just "more honesty" I want out of this - that I want out of myself - but more...artistry.
Quite simply, I think I can do better as a journaler. I think I'm a smarter and more capable writer than I've demonstrated so far.
I think one huge thing I'm avoiding - in here, and in the stand-up writing that isn't happening right now - is my struggle to feel connected to humanity, my struggle to find connections to other people in my life, and to work at finding the deeper connections we might have, as journal writer and reader.
I'm sure I've alluded to this before, but I feel like I often "miss the real story", for one reason or another. And if I had the courage, the will, to "dig a little deeper", the real story, the one hiding under the surface details, would emerge.
And I think "the real story" would ultimately be more interesting...for both of us.
The thing I'm most interested in right now, considering my (lifelong) feeling of being "disconnected" from other people, is figuring out where we do connect - mentally, emotionally, spiritually - in spite of whatever differences we may have.
That's what I'm looking for in here, that's what I'm looking for when I contemplate writing stand-up, and that's ultimately what I'm looking for in life.
It's clearly not something I'm going to work out in one journal entry...but it's something to shoot for.
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